***A special thanks to Derek Maul, friend and writer for the Tampa Tribune and to the Tampa Tribune for allowing a reprint.***
Tampa's military community gives me hope
- DEREK MAUL
(The Tampa Tribune, Jan 2, 2008.)
I'm not big into New Year's resolutions; I'm interested in more
substantive change than that. But one thing I have resolved is to let
people know how much their contributions are appreciated. We live in a world top-heavy with complaining, and I suspect such a tone is bringing us all down.
So I'm not that surprised that I've been writing more about our armed service personnel lately. The faithful work of Tampa's military community has been cropping up both in my reporting and my commentary.
It's not surprising considering the immensity and the scope of the current world conflict. There's not a reader within reach of the Tribune who can't identify some aspect of their life that interfaces in some level with the military or those who serve.
Like it or not, we live in a world fraught with fear, hostility, and institutionalized hate; and, foreign policy fans or not, we owe our lives and our liberty to the faithful service of those who wear the uniforms.
So I'm proud to report that, this week, their ranks will be swelled by one more good American who believes in freedom, loves his family, and is willing to put his life on the line to defend the Constitution. My son-in-law, Craig Campbell, is heading to Rhode Island for Officer
Candidates School. In 13 weeks, if all goes according to plan, he'll be commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy.
Rhode Island; January; I understand it's lovely this time of the year. But my so-in-law's a meteorologist, so it's not like he's doesn't know what he's getting in to. Plus he grew up in Connecticut, so he's well aware of why Florida is so popular December through March.
Craig believes he's ready; he's been doing the push-ups, the sit-ups, and the running. But more importantly he's a hard worker and conscientious with it; he knows what commitment means, and he's not afraid to do what's necessary to see something through.
But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to some concerns, some cautions, and some reservations. Craig's motivation is pure, and he is entering a military culture that values the principles that gave birth to freedom; ideals the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast-Guard
have sworn to defend. But the political will that wields such power is frequently more cynical, and often far less motivated by what is right. I have never held to the nonsense that government in a time of war is to be kowtowed and unquestioned. In fact any time American
lives are at stake is a good time to look for explanations that make sense.
Bottom line, my immediate family has entered the line of fire. And, while I'm no slouch when it comes to either prayer or politics, it's no exaggeration to say that I plan to redouble both my conversations with God and my due diligence in the coming months and years.
I have the good fortune to enjoy meaningful friendships with several officers, including more than one active general, so here around Tampa I see a lot that gives me confidence and hope.
I asked how their roles as professional soldiers in armed conflict could reconcile with personal Christian faith. They told me in no uncertain terms that the presence of believers in the military community is critical if we want to engage conflict as if the Constitution of the United States and the Geneva Convention really are working documents that mean something.
In other words, if there's any time that the foundational ideals of these United States come into clear focus it's in the context of stress, pressure, conflict, and tough choices. Or, maybe even closer to the truth, genuine faith is the only context where this freedom stuff really works in practice.
Because if we don't believe that, "All [people] are created equal", and that "They are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights…" - and that includes our enemies – then the whole thing comes down like a house of cards.
I'd like to think that everything we do as a nation is predicated on those fundamental premises. I'd like to think that's why my son-in-law, Craig, has signed up to serve.